Candle in the Window
by Marie Doty
This edition: Jim Prosser, Tech Services
For many, if not all of us, Unity has been a transformational church. Few of us, however, recognize that as clearly as Jim Prosser.
“We first came to Unity of Madison on Palm Sunday two years ago,” he recalls. His wife, Krista Pfohl (our Youth and Family Ministry Assistant Director), had said on Saturday night that she wanted to go to church the next morning. “I told her I would go with her. She wasn’t expecting me to actually go – but she was happy I did.” There’s a note of lingering surprise in Jim’s voice as he adds: “And I liked it. I really did.”
One of the most important changes in his life has been to quit expecting perfection of himself. “In anything I do, I want it to be perfect. Now I’ve learned to be okay with it if even if it doesn’t quite meet my standards. “ Incidentally, Jim’s face is a familiar one on some Sunday mornings: he is a volunteer in the Technical Services Ministry.
Through Unity, Jim says, he has learned to find the good in everything – even if the results are less than he expects. “I’ve discovered a lot of the expectations I placed in myself were due to the way I was raised. “My mother was a grade school teacher. I was the oldest and also I was adopted. My mom expected me to excel in everything. If my grade was just an A, her question was ‘Why wasn’t it an A plus?’ Anytime I did anything good, the question was ‘why wasn’t it better?’ “
A moment’s silence and he adds, “I’ve spent the better part of 20 years trying to live up to that.” When did he quit? “When I started going to Unity. I learned I could just be me. It’s been two years of destruction of what I had been taught - and two years of reconstruction of what I AM.”
Krista has also been a stepping stone to a new life. “She’s extremely positive and she’s helped me look at myself in ways I never expected.” Unity has been a gift to both. As for himself, Jim says, “My relationships with my family have gotten better. I was three when I was adopted. I’m Colombian but I don’t speak Spanish because my parents didn’t. They did provide a lot = a roof over our heads and food on the table. But they had problems. Dad was unemployed for three or four years. Mom was a parochial teacher and didn’t make a lot of money – and they ended up having a natural child themselves.”
His parents had flown down to South America to bring him back. “I remember some of that trip,” he says now. Jim was nine years old when his sister was born. “I was more or less a glorified baby sitter because of the gap in age.“ His mother had once planned to be a nun – and settled for teaching parochial school (incidentally, Jim says, she is now a Baptist). “I was always looked at as the black sheep of the family for many, many years. It was very difficult for me to deal with this. It was the big reason I moved to Madison from Manitowoc.”
Growing up, Jim found that when a parent made a mistake he or she never apologized. “That’s one thing I’ve worked at incredibly hard. If I’ve made a mistake, I apologize. And I really feel that by apologizing to family members, it’s a way to apologize to yourself. We all make mistakes.”
His 11 year-old daughter, Charlotte can see the change in him. “And, if you ask my wife, she’ll tell you that I’m completely different than when we started dating.”
Has moving to Madison been a help? He laughs and says, “YES! It’s where I met my wife.”
And he repeats, “This church has been a gift to me – to both of us. I’ve quit drinking in these past two years.”
It’s been a transformational journey for you? “Very much so and it’s not over yet – not at all. A lot of things have changed in the last two years - and I’ve just started the process."